Basho’s mimosa blossoms


On July 31, I visited 虫甘満寺(Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple in 象潟(Kisakata), 秋田(Akita) and I discovered many things. This temple is famous for the last spot which 松尾芭蕉( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) visited during his stay in Kisakata from August 1 – 3, 1689.

According to 『奥の細道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ translated by Donald Keene, Basho and his party took a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata. They put in first 能因島 (Noin jima), Noin Island, where they visited the remains of the hut in which 能因(Noin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.

On the opposite shore, when they landed from their boat, they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hosi)(1118-1190), Saigyo, who wrote of it in  1174: 


 Kisakata no sakura wa nami ni uzumorete hana no ue kogu ama no tsuribune 


At Kisakata

A cherry tree is covered

At times by the waves;

Fishermen must row their boats

Above the cherry blossoms.  


    Translated by Donald Keene


Basho wrote on:

  “Near the water is a tomb they say is the Empress Jingu’s, and the temple standing nearby is called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji). I had never heard that the Empress had come this way. I wonder if it is true.” 

It is said that in those days there were 99 small islands and 88 lagoons there and the people enjoyed beautiful sceneries or fishing by boat around there.

However, on July 10, 1804 a big earthquake hit this area, by which the earth there upheaved by 2.4 meters and the lagoons were changed into dry land.

Now, most of those lagoons have turned into rice fields or residential areas, but there are the remains of those days left there.

Firstly, the stone for tying the boat with a rope (舟つなぎの石)(fune tsunagi no ishi) is found behind the temple.


象潟干満珠寺(H21) 017


Secondly, the cherry tree(西行法師の歌桜)(Saigyo hoshi no uta zakura), where Saigyo is said to have written his waka poem, is also found near the boat-tying stone.


象潟干満珠寺(H21) 018


Thirdly, the stone tablet inscribed with Basho’s haiku is found inside the temple garden. It is said to have been built in 1763 on the seventieth anniversary of Basho’s death.


象潟干満珠寺(H21) 015


Basho wrote his haiku during his stay in Kisakata. One of them is this:


Kisakata ya  ame ni Seishi ga  nebu no hana



Seishi sleeping in the rain,

Wet mimosa blossoms.


                                                                         Translated by Donald Keene


Now there are two statues built in front of the temple. One of them is Basho’s statue and the other is Seishi’s, who is said to have been one of the four beauties in China.


象潟干満珠寺(H21) 001

象潟干満珠寺(H21) 004


On my way home, I hit upon the following haiku:


Seishi tatsu  Basho to tomoni  saku hanabi


Seishi standing

accompanies Basho

fireworks in bloom


                                                                                             ― Hidenori Hiruta


3 thoughts on “Basho’s mimosa blossoms

  1. thank you mcdonald san for a nice comment and a beautiful haiku.
    your haiku makes me think it is time cherry blossoms were going. Very beautiful, thank you again.

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